Air New Zealand reveals new Boeing 787-9 business-class seat
A new business-class product is headed to Air New Zealand's fleet of Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners.
The airline revealed in a regulatory filing this week with the U.S. Department of Transportation that it's planning to install 42 business-class seats in its 787-9s in a 1-2-1 configuration, featuring two subproducts: Business Premier and Business Premier Luxe.
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The new configuration represents a significant increase in premium capacity for the airline. In its current configuration, the airline's 787-9 holds just 27 business-class seats in a 1-1-1 configuration. While those seats do feature direct aisle access, they are angled away from the windows in a slightly dated herringbone configuration.
The new product's Business Premier Luxe seat occupies the front of the cabin, according to the filing, which was first reported by Seth Miller at PaxEx.aero. The filing pertained to the accessibility requirements of the new seats and is intended to demonstrate how someone with limited mobility can move between an aisle wheelchair and the new seat.
The Business Premier Luxe seat is a larger version of the Business Premier seat and appears to feature a sliding door. With this new subproduct, Air New Zealand appears to be going for a cabin-within-a-cabin model that JetBlue currently uses with its larger Mint Studio that occupies the front of its transatlantic Airbus A321LR fleet. It's all but certain that Air New Zealand will charge extra for these Luxe seats.
Photos of the standard Business Premier seat were more limited in the filing. The seat appears similar to the B/E Aerospace Super Diamond seat used by airlines such as Air Canada. While not revolutionary, this seat offers a comfortable experience and is a significant upgrade from Air New Zealand's current Business Premier product.
As with any prototypical product, the final configuration of these seats may vary from the mock-ups that Air New Zealand provided to the DOT.
In a statement, Air New Zealand's Chief Customer and Sales Officer Leanne Geraghty explained the DOT submission, and promised more to come.
"Accessibility for customers with disabilities is a big part of our enhanced aircraft offering, and as part of this, we are in the early stages of designing our new cabin layout. What we’re proposing in this submission is a concept to ensure safe access for all customers into and out of the premium seats.
This is a very early submission and as part of the process, we are required to get approval from authorities such as the US Department of Transport to ensure the seats meet the latest design and safety requirements specified. It is also the same process we went through to seek approval for the Business Premier lie-flat bed in 2013.
To date more than 80,000 design and engineering hours have gone into the new Business Premier seats, along with 18 months of customer research and testing, so by no means is this the extent of what we’re doing. When we do have confirmed details to share, we look forward to doing so. There’s more in store so stay tuned!"
This new product represents the future of long-haul for Air New Zealand, as the Star Alliance member will be retiring its entire fleet of Boeing 777s in favor of an all-787 long-haul fleet. Last week, the airline announced that it will begin 787-9 service to New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) from its hub at Auckland Airport (AKL) in September, which will become one of the world's longest flights.
The exact timing of this product is unclear, though the airline asked the DOT to respond to its filling by April 29 "so that it may finalize arrangements for the installation of these seats on its B787-9 aircraft."